Importance of Schedules and Routines
Just like adults, children feel more confident and secure when their daily activities are predictable and familiar. Consistent daily schedules and step-by-step routines give children a predictable, safe day. Schedules and routines help children:
- Feel in control of their environment
- Feel safe, secure, and comfortable
- Know what is happening now and what comes next
- Know how to do an activity or task
However, what happens when you have a change in schedule or routine? Does your toddler or child melt down or show big behaviors? An unexpected schedule change or a change in their routine can be upsetting and stressful. If your child is struggling when transitioning between tasks or with changes in schedule or routine, BDI Playhouse recommends you use simple visual schedules to make those transitions and changes smoother.
What is a visual schedule?
A visual schedule is an image-based tool that helps support children of all ages. It presents a sequence of events for what is going to happen during a specific task, during an activity, or throughout the day. Visual schedules help individuals complete a sequence of tasks or activities, attend to tasks, transition from one task to another, or maintain emotional regulation in various settings.
A visual schedule may use a sequence of photographs, videos, illustrations, or other visual elements that help your child understand what they are expected to do. The visual schedule can be virtual on your phone or printed on paper.
Benefits of Using Visuals
- Provides clarity and predictability in routine which allows a feeling of control (reducing anxiety or confusion)
- Provides concrete visual information for (can make something abstract feel concrete, such as the length of time before an activity will be over).
- Reduces behaviors caused by frustration, confusion, anxiety.
- Provides a critical avenue for visual learners to understand and retain information.
- Serves as a virtual “contract” for completing expectations and delivering rewards.
- Assists in building independent routines with better success (such as packing a backpack, washing hands, or cleaning up after snack).
- Helps children know what to expect and/or what the expectation is so that they don’t have to fear what will happen or become impatient and frustrated.
How to create your own visual schedule
- Identify your Target/Routine for the schedule
- Choose the type of visual that will be most meaningful to the child:
- Photographs of the child/child’s environment
- Real life images
- Line drawings
- Text writing only
- Keep language simple and direct
- Involve the child in preparation
- Involve other caregivers
Easy Resources for Visual Schedules
- Lessonpix – online resource to create custom printable materials (clipart, upload personal photos or use photos from the internet)
- 300+ Editable Daily Rhythm Cards
- Teachers Pay Teachers
- Iphone Apps:
- Visual Daily Schedule
If you find that your child is still having difficulty when you have a change in schedule or routine or need help learning how to use a visual schedule, contact BDI Playhouse to set up a free screening with one of our pediatric occupational therapists or speech language pathologists. We can help you help your child!